The plan to reconcile two versions of the drug testing bill for welfare recipients in Georgia could soon be realized. The House and Senate are also pushing for the exemption of women in domestic violence in the drug testing process before they can receive their welfare benefits as part of the reconciled bill.
In the coming conference committee, the House and Senate will reconcile the drug testing bill for welfare recipients authored by Sen. Johm Albers (R-Roswell) and Rep. Michael Harden (R-Toccoa). The two legislative bodies have earlier approved a similar drug testing bill for welfare recipients that require them to pass a drug test before they can get their cash assistance from the state.
Last Wednesday, the House Judiciary Civil committee favored the exemption of women in violent domestic conditions from the required drug test in order to get their payments. Those who did not agree with the decision were quick to say that most women trapped in abusive relationships often turn to drugs and are forced to stay in their situation because they don’t have enough financial resources to support themselves.
Under the welfare program, abused women get their cash benefits automatically while others enjoy the welfare benefits by living under shelters funded by the state welfare program.
The budget requirement for the drug testing program is yet to be exactly determined, but the Albers-sponsored version of the bill estimates costs to reach $84,500 and state savings of $103,000. The Harden version did not give any specific figures since it claims that the state will not lose any amount for the program.
Meanwhile, state officials in Atlanta said that they will be shouldering the cost of a computer system needed by the drug testing program. An estimated $200,000 will be spent on the system and the cost of the actual drug testing will be deducted from the budget given to welfare recipients as stated in the original proposal sponsored by Harden.